The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 194)
I come from a family of 6 children - 5 boys and 1 girl. When I was a child, my paternal grandparents were staying with us and our home was always full of people. On top of that we also had many altars dedicated to different deities which my mother inherited from my grandparent and she would dutifully burn incense on them twice a day without fail. As a child, I thought that there were many ‘gods’ in this world and it was kind of confusing for me as I wondered how they could all co-exist at the same time!
Though I grew up in this kind of environment, I was not interested in any form of religion; all I wanted to do was to study well and to have a respectable career as most young practical Singaporeans do. My desire then was centred on material things in this physical dimension only and nothing spiritual. As far as religion was concerned, I considered myself a ‘free thinker’.
To me it was morally alright to do whatever one wished as long as he did not commit any heinous crime or break any local law. When I was in National Service, I adopted the same philosophy most guys did: you can do anything you want as long as you are not caught by your superior. How wrong I was to think that I was not accountable to anyone besides my immediate earthly superiors!
If I had committed any sin against anyone I would tell myself that he deserved to be treated this way to justify my actions and to satisfy my own conscience; I would not even bother to apologise to those whom I had wronged or to make any form of restitution to them. To me, in my unconverted state, any sin committed was just a small mistake everybody made since no one was perfect anyway. I took sin very lightly not knowing that every sin committed against men was actually an offence towards God.
After I had completed National Service, I found a job in SingTel. Among my colleagues I noticed that there was a Christian who stood out from the rest and he could resist all kinds of temptations by standing firm on his Christian principles. He was not a very popular guy and sometimes I felt bad to see him being bullied by the rest. One day in 1987 he invited me to a Gospel meeting held at his church. Because of his good testimony I readily accepted the invitation though I did not know what I was in for. That evening, as I listened to the Gospel being preached, I realised that there is only one Creator God who made the heavens and earth, man and all the things in the world, by the very word of His mouth. He is so different from all the man-made idols my mother was faithfully worshipping. I was told that when man was first made in the image of God, he was perfect and without sin, but due to his disobedience to God’s commandment, sin entered the world and man was separated from the holy God. The once sweet communion between God and man was severed and man became God’s enemy. A sinful man cannot go back to the holy God except for His love and mercy, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to come to this world to die for sinners and those who place their trust in Him as their Saviour will be cleansed from all their sins and be born again as a new creature in Christ.
The clear preaching of the word of God enabled me to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I could not but confess my sins before Him and I received Him as my personal Saviour and Lord. How wrong I was to think that I could break any rule behind the back of my earthly superiors and get away with it. Now I realise that the all-knowing God sees everything that I have ever done and I am accountable to Him for all of them. Had it not been for the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for me, I would have been judged and condemned to hell when He comes again as the Judge of the world. My sins were forgiven by God not because of what I had done or tried to do but because of what Christ Jesus had done on the cross for me. He paid the full price for all my sins when He died in my place. How wonderful and loving God is!
After I received Jesus as my personal Saviour and Lord I started attending church services for a while but began falling away gradually because I was busy working fulltime in the day and attending courses in Singapore Polytechnic in the evening. In 1990 I finally graduated from Singapore Polytechnic, and was offered a job in American Express. Once I entered the private sector, life was very stressful and I became short-tempered and self-centred. After office hours I would join my colleagues to go to the pubs to ‘de-stress’, as they put it, by drowning ourselves in alcohol. Though I knew that it was not the right thing to do, I found it hard to resist their invitation because I wanted to be accepted by them.
The lack of Christian fellowship and encouragement was compounded by worldly influences and I began to return to my old sinful way of life. Though I was unfaithful, God is always faithful and He would not let me continue to go my own ways. God, in His mercy and unfailing love, always reaches out to His wayward children in His unique way. In my case, God caused me to develop a high fever of unknown origin and I had to be hospitalised for a week for investigation. This happened during the Chinese New Year holidays of 1999 and I felt quite miserable and lonely as most of the wards were empty because patients were discharged to go home for celebrations. Loneliness drove me to turn to the Word of God and prayer; something I had not been doing for a long time. I realised how far away I was from God and how much I needed to come back to Him.
The first thing I did upon discharge from the hospital was to return to church to worship God with other Christians. God also gave me the opportunity to learn how to serve Him in His household. In order to declare my faith publicly, I went through water baptism in December 2003. After I returned to church I met up with Bridget, a Christian girl whom I knew long ago and our relationship developed from friendship to courtship. It was amazing how God prepared and preserved us for each other all these years and finally we were united in marriage on 7th August 2004.
After becoming a Christian my greatest concern was for the salvation of my parents. At that time it seemed so impossible to talk to my parents about my faith because they were such staunch idol-worshippers. In September 2005, when the annual Gospel meetings were held in our church I extended the invitation to them and they readily accepted. God must have worked in their hearts so that they were willing to come to hear the Gospel. Not only that, my mother was saved that night! Praise the Lord, for nothing is impossible for Him! I give thanks to God for His marvellous grace in saving my mother and helping her grow in grace. Since she was born again, my mother became a changed person; she came to church every Sunday to worship God without fail and she read the Bible everyday though she had given up reading newspapers due to failing eyesight. In fact, she had been an encouragement and an example to me as I watched her grow spiritually. My mother was a heavy smoker for over 40 years and God miraculously helped her to quit the bad habit altogether.
One year later, witnessing my mother’s good testimony at home, my father also came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I can testify to how gracious God is to my parents and me and it was such a joy to come to church with them every Lord’s Day!
In 2008 my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and on 4th February 2009 God called her home to rest from all her labour and suffering. We were all comforted that she no longer suffered in pain but is now resting in the arms of Jesus waiting for us to be reunited with her again one day in our heavenly Home.
In November 2009, my father was baptised. May all praise and glory be given to our Heavenly Father for His wonderful salvation to me and to my parents! The God we believe is truly a faithful God, for the Bible says:
“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess 5:24).
By Johnson Yip